Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book 46 - Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke - Vietnam

All third culture kids would relate to Andy as he and his father travel back to Hanoi. Andy's father left Vietnam twenty years before and this is his first trip 'home'. Andy finds Vietnam to be a shock - nothing is as he imagines it would be and everyone behaves in such a strange way - including his father. He meets all his relatives and has his name changed to the Vietnamese Anh. Their restaurant is actually a small but vibrant cafe on a very busy street. Andy sees how hard his relatives work and finds that they expect him to join in the work. His cousins are a surprise to him as well, especially Minh. Her mother lives in Saigon and it is her one goal in life to go and join her there. At twelve years of age Minh is already one of the best cooks at the cafe when she is not at school. However, on a siteseeing trip one day Andy spies Minh out selling postcards to tourists when she should have been in school. She tells him her secret - she is raising money for her fare to Saigon. Andy understands her desire to be reunited with her mother and keeps her secret from the rest of the family. Then one afternoon while Minh and Andy are out in the city Andy gets an idea how to make his Vietnamese family lots of tourist dollars by advertising their cafe. His attempts to help in a western way cause a lot of confusion.

This is a wonderful story of the shock of finally meeting the relatives you had only ever heard about. A clash of cultures and a finding of your own identity. Andy is a very honest character who see his family as greedy and rude at first. He has trouble accepting his father's reluctance to tell them all the truth about their life in Australia and just how humble it really is.